Today I was listening to a TED talk on shame by Brene Brown. She said, “If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.”
I got shivers up my spine as I thought about my transgender experience. Shame has been a constant companion through my journey, it has haunted me even as I asked the question of my readers, “Are you ashamed of being a crossdresser” and even when I stand on the mountaintop victorious over shame I’m aware that it still bides it’s time, hoping for an insurrection of my spirit.
Those in the transgender community know secrecy well. It has been our bed fellow since before we knew what it meant. Growing up in secrecy we hid our feelings. As we blossomed into adulthood we desperately fought to keep our deepest darkest from others. Like a cancer from within, secrecy ate our souls.
Like twin demons dancing down the path to despair, silence and secrecy skip hand in hand. Our desire for secrecy kept us silent, and the silence of the community kept others silent. A lot has changed in the last 10 years. The voices of those who can no longer embrace secrecy has sent a cry of hope out into the silence. This was the reason I started Crossdresser Heaven. At first it was my cry for help – to myself, to understand what I was going through. Then it became my cry of hope – small though it may be, I added my voice to the chorus of those offering advice, encouragement and solace. I told my transgender story. I shared your transgender stories.
Yet judgement wandered among us still – the judgement of our hearts, the judgement of those with little understanding or care. They condemned us as sinners, as heathens and accused us of all manner of debauchery. They stripped down our identity to a single word, erasing all our good deeds and contributions to hang the sign, “Transgender” around our necks. For many the shame was so strong that we bowed our heads and wore this brand as if it were tattooed on our hearts.
It does not need to be this way. We do not need to hide in secret, weep in silence or cower at the judgement foisted upon us. Dear readers, lovely ladies and beautiful kindred spirits, I understand your walk. I know your shame, I feel your struggle, and I hold your hand as you get back up one more time. We are here together. Alone they can isolate us, ridicule us. Together we are strong. Together we can change laws and melt hearts. Together we can find comfort and share warmth.
Together we can pour the salve of empathy on shame. Dousing it so thoroughly that no secrecy, or silence, or judgement can ever infect the beauty of who we are created to be. For all those who have not heard it yet, today I say to you, “me too.“
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